Isle of Wight Experience

Osborne House, the royal seaside palace on the Isle of Wight, is the main reason why I wanted to visit this island. I came across some details about this place many years ago while reading the book Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert. Continue reading

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Shakespeare Country

Stratford-upon-Avon is one of my favourite places in England. Jared took me there the first time when I first arrived in London and then we took another trip with a group of people from our church back in 2003. Then about three weeks ago Jared and I once again visited this medieval town and revelled in its history, charm and beauty. Continue reading

Charming Villages in the Cotswolds

Note:

My previous post about our Cotswolds exploration was the visit to a historic town referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’ – Burford.

The Cotswolds were declared an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1966. It is a rural landscape just over an hour drive from Britain’s capital city; it contains medieval stone-built villages, towns, stately homes and gardens, and it is indeed one of England’s most picturesque places. There are loads of quaint villages that dot the hillside with some fairy tale like settings. Jared and I have visited Blenheim Palace together for the first time last summer and we continued on this Cotswolds journey visiting a new place every chance we get.
Continue reading

Burford, the Gateway to the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of Britain’s most picturesque places located in south central England about 800 square miles in land area and comprises a range of rolling hills that runs through five counties — Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.  It is the favourite country retreat of the rich and famous — Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Hurley, Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron and many other prominent figures in Britain own a Grade II-listed country pile in this part of the country.  Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (3rd of 3 Parts)

Our visit to Shetland was precipitated by a friend’s invite for Jared and I to explore the islands. He told us that we will see the northernmost tea shop, northernmost police station, northernmost bus stop, northernmost hotel — practically everything northerly, and boy, was he right! We’ve seen everything northerly in the British isles when we visited the tiny island of Unst. To get to the island, we took the ferry for about half an hour (the car was loaded on a ferry) to an island called Yell and then on to another ferry for 45 minutes to Unst. What completed our trip was the visit to these islands. Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (2nd of 3 Parts)

This is the second post in a 3-Part series. Read the 1st Part here.

Shetland may be remote and wild; but it is an oil rich country and the public infrastructure is one of the best in the UK. Despite its small size, only 1,468 sq km, and a relatively small population, just over 23,000, the Shetland Islands Council is the richest in Britain with £266 million in reserve — thanks to the oil industry revenue. Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (1st of 3 Parts)

It is an odd place, Shetland. I had never heard of it until a good friend of ours informed Jared and me three years ago that he bought a holiday home here. He’s been making frequent trips to Shetland since the 70s, and been inviting us to visit and explore the islands. Continue reading

The Window Tax of Yore

 

Since time immemorial the ruling elite of this country have contemplated how best to fund the armies that protect the empire, maintain the roads and infrastructural needs of the country, and finance various public expenditures.  Taxation has always been the answer but in different forms. Once upon a time, just about 400 years ago, it was the humble window that was taxed.  Continue reading

Nostalgia

This time last year we were billeted at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel before we returned to London, and I meant to write a review of our visit but life gets in the way, and other plans happen. I finally got to finish the draft I wrote last year. 

sofitelphilplazahotel25They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So when it comes to a hotel, the lobby needs to be the showpiece. As such, when I enter a hotel I always observe every detail in the foyer so I don’t entirely miss the impressive entrance hall they have so cleverly crafted.  Continue reading

The Only Surviving Extravagant Private Palace of Victorian London

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit Lancaster House, an historic building in London, a couple of weeks ago. The tour guide, an employee of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), took us around and after exploring the stately home I said to him, “Wow! This is a vibrant piece of living history. What a shame that the Crown Estate do not open this magnificent mansion to the public.” He explained that this is the only government building that’s used for conferences and other official functions, and as such it would not be easy to keep its door open to the public. I told him that if Buckingham Palace can manage to open some of the state rooms to the public during the summer months then surely the government can do the same thing when the FCO is resting from its gruelling diplomatic functions. Continue reading